A steward from Air France has launched an online appeal against gay cabin members having to travel to Iran. It's titled: “Gay stewards from Air France don't want to fly to the death penalty in Iran”.
“Sure, our sexuality isn't written on our passports and it doesn't change the way we work as a crew,” wrote 'Laurent M' in an open letter to the French government and the CEO of Air France Frédéric Gagey.
“But it is inconceivable to force someone to go to a country where his kind are condemned for who they are.”
The letter points out that homosexuality in Iran is illegal and comes with a penalty of 74 lashes for a minor, while adults can be given the death penalty.
A petition on site Change.org which calls for gay stewards not to work on the soon to re-open Paris to Tehran route has gained almost 2,000 signatures in the past few days.
But a gay Air France steward firm the airline's LGBT union told The Local that the petition does not reflect their views.
“This is not an idea we support. We cannot have lists of people based on their sexuality. If gay stewards don't want to fly to Iran, then there are around 20 other destinations where gay rights are not recognized that they would have to opt out of too.”
The letter comes just one week after Air France hostesses and female pilots refused to fly on the Paris to Tehran route because they didn't want to be forced to wear a veil and loose trousers.
The airline eventually found a compromise with unions after the story gained international media attention. In the end, Air France accepted that stewardesses could refuse to work on the Tehran route without facing punishment.
Air France suspended flights to Iran in 2008 but is resuming the service next week after international sanctions on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear programme were lifted.
The company pointed out that the same headscarf rule was already in place when flying to certain destinations, such as Saudi Arabia, a country which also has the death penalty for anyone caught carrying out homosexual acts.
It remains unknown what effect the new petition will have, not least because it doesn't have the same backing from the Unac union, which was heavily involved in the fight of the stewardesses.
A spokesperson from the union told the Metro newspaper that the notion of Air France staff avoiding flights to Tehran “has been tackled for the entire aircrew, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation”.
The paper noted, however, that Air France management has so far only allowed the choice to refuse journeys to Iran to hostesses, and not stewards.